Articles Posted in Same Sex Immigration

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If you are a family-based conditional permanent resident who was issued a two-year green card based on your marriage to a U.S. Citizen, then you may be interested to know that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its policy guidance for Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence.

The new policy guidance provides new updates for the following individuals:

  • Conditional permanent residents who filed an I-751 petition jointly with their spouse, but are no longer married since their filing (either because of divorce or abuse)
  • Cases where the I-751 petition is being terminated for failure to file the application on time with USCIS or lack of evidence.

Overview


By law, your permanent resident status is conditional if you were married to a U.S. Citizen for less than 2 years on the day you obtained permanent resident status.

This means that at the end of your I-485 adjustment of status (green card) application process, you will receive conditional permanent residence (a 2-year green card) if you were married for less than 2 years at the time of the adjudication of your I-485 adjustment of status application. On the other hand, those who have been married for more than 2 years receive a 10-year green card that is not subject to conditions.

To remove the conditions on permanent resident status, conditional permanent residents must file Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence within the 90-day period before the expiration of their green card status. The I-751 petition must be filed jointly with your U.S. citizen spouse, or you must qualify for a waiver of the joint filing requirement if you are no longer married.

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It’s a brand-new week full of important updates from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This time for employment authorization documents (EADs).

Recently, USCIS announced that certain applicants who have filed to renew their employment authorization cards (EADs) on Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, may qualify for an automatic extension of their expiring employment authorization and/or employment authorization documents (EADs) while their renewal applications are pending with USCIS.

Beginning October 27, 2023, those who are eligible will receive 180-day automatic extensions of their EADs, including those who have applied for or have received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or asylum.

Previously, USCIS had passed a regulation that increased the automatic extension period for certain EAD applicants from 180 days to 540 days. This announcement will not impact EADs that were already issued for up to the 540-day period. Those extensions will remain in place. For such individuals, the increased automatic extension will end when they receive a final decision on their renewal application or when the “up to 540-day period” expires (counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or their EAD), whichever comes earlier.

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It’s that time of the month again. Time to share the latest trends and projections of the July Visa Bulletin!

To help you prepare for your upcoming immigrant visa or green card filing, in this blog post, we share what you can expect to see in the upcoming month’s visa bulletin for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.


Here are some of the highlights from the July 2023 Visa Bulletin


Employment-based categories

  • EB-3 India will retrogress by more than 3.5 years to January 1, 2009. EB-3 for all countries except China will retrogress by 4 months to February 1, 2022.
  • EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 cutoff dates will remain the same in July as before.
  • Dates for Filing cutoff dates in the employment-based categories remain the same as June.

Family-sponsored categories

Dates for Filing cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F-1 Mexico will advance by 1 month to January 1, 2003 from December 1, 2002
  • F-1 China, India, World will advance by 8 months to September 1, 2017 from January 1, 2017
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 3 months to April 1, 2002 from January 1, 2002
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 3 weeks to March 1, 2010 from February 8, 2010
  • F4 China and World will advance by 1 month to March 1, 2008 from February 1, 2008
  • F4 Mexico will advance by 2 weeks to April 15, 2001 from April 1, 2001

Final Action cutoff dates – Advancements in July:

  • F1 Mexico will advance by 3 weeks to April 22, 2001, from April 1, 2001
  • F2B Mexico will advance by 2 months to August 1, 2001, from June 1, 2001
  • F3 China, India, World will advance by 2 weeks to December 22, 2008, from December 8, 2008
  • F3 Mexico will advance by 2.5 months to January 15, 1998, from November 1, 1997
  • F4 China and World will advance by 2 weeks to April 22, 2007, from April 8, 2007

What is the Visa Bulletin?


The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month in the employment and family preference categories.


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart July 2023


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not yet published guidance regarding the appropriate chart to use for adjustment of status filings in the month of July. Once the announcement is made, USCIS will indicate whether they will accept adjustment of status applications based on the Final Action Dates chart or the Dates for Filing chart. As soon as we have that information, we will provide it in this blog post.

You may also find the information here once it is published:


July 2023 Visa Bulletin Dates for Filing Cutoff Dates


 Employment-Based Categories


FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES


According to the Department of State’s July 2023 Visa Bulletin, the following Final Action cutoff dates will apply for employment-based categories, which will determine whether an adjustment of status application can be filed with USCIS in July:

  • EB-1: All countries will remain current, except for India and China, which will have a cutoff date of February 1, 2022
  • EB-2: India will remain at January 1, 2011. China will remain at June 8, 2019. All other countries will remain at February 15, 2022
  • EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers: India will retrogress by 3.5 years to January 1, 2009, and China will remain at April 1, 2019. All other countries will retrogress by four months to February 1, 2022.
  • EB-3 Other Workers: India will retrogress by 3.5 years to January 1, 2009, China will remain at September 1, 2015. All other countries will remain at January 1, 2020.
  • EB-4: All countries will remain at September 1, 2018.
  • EB-5: For the EB-5 Unreserved categories (C5, T5, I5, and R5), China will remain at September 8, 2015, and India will remain at April 1, 2017. All other countries will remain current. The EB-5 “Set-Aside” categories (Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure) will remain current.

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The Department of State raised eyebrows earlier this month when it released information that it will be reducing the waiting period for 221(G) “administrative processing,” in an effort to process visas more efficiently.

While this is welcome news, in practice it may not mean much. Consulates and Embassies have been notoriously secretive when it comes to 221(G) administrative processing and do not reveal the reason for a visa applicant being placed in administrative processing in the first place, nor the type of security checks that are being conducted.


What is 221(G) Administrative Processing?


First, let’s explain what administrative processing is. When an applicant visits a U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas for their visa interview, there are only two possible outcomes that can occur at the conclusion of their interview. The Consular Officer may choose to either issue or “refuse” the visa. A refusal is not the same as a denial. It simply means that the visa applicant has not established his or her eligibility for the visa they are seeking for the time being, and the Consulate needs additional time or requires further information either from the visa applicant or another source to determine the applicant’s eligibility for the visa.

In most cases, visa applicants who have been “refused” will require further administrative processing.


How will I know if I have been placed in 221(G) administrative processing?


Visa applicants placed in administrative processing are often given what is called a “Notice of 221(G) Refusal” at the conclusion of their interview, which states that the visa application has been “refused” under section 221(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Notice should indicate whether additional administrative processing is required for your case, and whether any further action is required on your part, such as providing additional documentation or further information to process your visa.

However, in some cases visa applicants are not given such a Notice and will later discover that they have been placed in 221(G) administrative processing upon checking their visa status on the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) visa status check webpage.

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It’s that time of the month again. The Department of State has released the May 2023 Visa Bulletin, giving you the latest updates on visa availability for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories.

To help you prepare for your upcoming immigrant visa or green card filing, we share what you can expect to see in the upcoming month’s visa bulletin.

Here are some of the highlights from the May 2023 Visa Bulletin:


  • For employment-based preference adjustment of status filings, USCIS will continue to use the Final Action Dates chart, as they did in April.
  • For the month of May, EB-1 India and China will maintain their Final Action cutoff date of February 1, 2022, and Dates for Filing cutoff date of June 1, 2022. All other countries remain current. DOS warns applicants that cutoff dates for EB1 China and India will likely retrogress in the near future.
  • For the month of May, the EB-2 India Final Action and Dates for Filing cutoff dates will remain at January 1, 2011, and May 1, 2012, respectively.
  • For all other countries, except China and India, the EB-2 Final Action cutoff date will retrogress by four and a half months to February 15, 2022. Their Dates for Filing cutoff date will remain at December 1, 2022.
  • In May, the EB-3 China Professional/Skilled Worker category will advance by five months to April 1, 2019, for Final Action, and by four months to June 1, 2019 for Dates for Filing.
  • The EB-3 India Professional/Skilled Worker Final Action date will remain at June 15, 2012, and the Dates for Filing cutoff will remain at August 1, 2012.
  • Future retrogressions are expected for EB-1 India and China in the coming months, as well as EB-2 and EB-5 India as early as June.

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In this blog post, we share with you the latest news in the world of immigration.

Recently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has removed the 60-day rule for civil surgeon signatures on Form I-693 Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, also known as the immigration medical exam.

This form must be completed by a civil surgeon and submitted along with the applicant’s I-485 adjustment of status (green card) application with USCIS.

Green card applicants can now submit their Form I-693 medical examination for up to 2 years after the civil surgeon has signed the form.

Previously, green card applicants were required to have a civil surgeon sign Form I-693 within 60 days of submitting their green card application or risk its rejection with USCIS. The 60-day rule created much confusion among green card applicants and was an unnecessary obstacle to the green card process. Form I-693’s that were not signed within the 60-day period were issued Requests for Evidence (RFE) asking for a compliant Form I-693 signed within the requisite 60-day period.

Now that USCIS has eliminated the 60-day rule, applicants will have more time and flexibility to obtain their signed Form I-693 medical examination without worrying. This change will also decrease the green card backlogs, considering that less RFEs will be issued for deficient Form I-693’s given the 2-year validity period from the date of the civil surgeon’s signature.

In support of its new policy, USCIS has said, “While the 60-day rule was intended to enhance operational efficiency and reduce the need to request updated Forms I-693 from applicants, in practice these efficiencies have not been realized.”

For more information about this new update, please click here.

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In this blog post, we share with you new information provided by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Department of State Liaison Committee following a meeting with the National Visa Center (NVC) addressing some common issues of concern for immigrant visa applicants waiting for their visas to be processed at the NVC and immigrant visa scheduling at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad.

We provide a summary of the questions asked and responses from the Department of State down below. This discussion was part of a meeting with representatives from the Bureau of Consular Affairs, taking place on February 9, 2023.


NVC Statistics for Documentarily Complete Cases


Question: Can NVC confirm how many cases were completed in FY2022 compared with the 342,392 completed in FY2021?

Answer: Documentarily Complete cases (documents received, reviewed, and case entered into scheduling queue) by Fiscal Year:

  • FY 2020 = 321,274
  • FY 2021 = 342,392
  • FY 2022 = 343,277

Question: Can NVC confirm how many cases have been completed so far in FY 2023?

Answer: The number of immigrant visa cases determined to be documentarily complete by the National Visa Center thus far in fiscal year 2023 (as of 27 January 2023) is 140,084.

Question: What is the monthly volume of immigrant visa cases that the NVC processes?

Answer: On average, during FY 2022, NVC performed case creation for nearly 14,974 immigrant visa petitions, received 20,987 ELIS petitions from USCIS, and reviewed supporting forms and documents for another 72,337 immigrant visa cases per month.

Question: What is the monthly volume of nonimmigrant (fiancé) visa cases that the NVC processes?

Answer: On average, during FY 2022, NVC performed case creation for 1,138 l-129F petitions for Alien Fiancé(e)s per month.

Question: If a document is not considered acceptable, and the attorney re-submits the requested documents, on average, how long does the NVC take to review the new evidence?

Answer: When missing documentation is subsequently provided, it is reviewed in the order it was received. NVC processing times have dropped significantly in the past year. Applicants may refer to the NVC Timeframes page on travel.state.gov to track the current Document Review processing time. NVC Processing dates are updated weekly.

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The U.S. Department of State has released its March 2023 Visa Bulletin.

To help you prepare for your upcoming immigrant visa or green card filing, we share what you can expect to see in the employment based and family preference categories for the month of March.


What is the Visa Bulletin?


The Department of State releases the visa bulletin on a monthly basis, which summarizes the availability of immigrant visa numbers for that particular month in the employment and family preference categories.

To be eligible to file an employment-based adjustment of status application in March 2023, foreign nationals must have a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing chart as listed in the Department of State’s March Visa Bulletin.

Those currently residing in the United States, may file for adjustment of status once their priority dates become current, following the Dates for Filing chart according to the adjustment of status filing guidance published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Adjustment of Status Filing Chart March 2023


For Family-Sponsored Filings:

Pursuant to guidance released by USCIS, for all family-sponsored preference categories, applicants must use the Dates for Filing chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin for March 2023.

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In this blog post, we provide an immigration roundup regarding the latest immigration news.


USCIS Recommends AOS applicants submit all evidence with Form I-485, including Medical Examination


Those who are applying for adjustment of status should be aware that USCIS has recommended green card applicants submit all required initial evidence and supporting documentation at the time of filing the Form I-485.

This practice is recommended to avoid the issuance of a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE is issued where USCIS finds that further evidence or supporting documentation is needed to complete the adjudication of your case. It is also beneficial to submit all supporting evidence at the time of filing Form I-485 to avoid delays in the long-run, and where the immigration officer may find that an in-person interview is unnecessary, electing to waive the interview requirement.

Additionally, applicants are advised to submit Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, at the same time of filing Form I-485. USCIS points out that the I-693 Medical Examination is valid for two years after the date the civil surgeon signed the examination. USCIS has also temporarily waived the requirement that the civil surgeon’s signature be dated no more than 60 days before filing Form I-485 until March 31, 2023.


Changes to Filing Location for Form I-360 and Form I-485 for Self-Petitioning Abused Spouses, Children, and Parents


USCIS has announced that beginning Friday, February 10, 2023, self-petitioning abused spouses, children, and parents must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the Nebraska Service Center instead of the Vermont Service Center.

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The Green Card and Employment Authorization Document just got a brand-new look.

In this post, we bring you the lowdown on what you can expect. USCIS recently announced that the agency will be issuing newly redesigned Permanent Resident Cards (also known as green cards) and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) starting Monday, January 30, 2023.

The previous design was implemented in 2017. To mitigate the risk of fraud and counterfeiting, USCIS redesigns green cards and EADs every three to five years.

The new design includes state-of-the-art technology designed to improve its security and integrity against counterfeiting.

Along with completely redesigned artwork, the new green card and EADs come with tactile printing, enhanced optically variable ink, secure holographic images on the front and back, and a new layer-reveal feature showcasing a partial window on the back photo box, and data fields that have been placed in different areas than on previous versions.

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